CCTV in Slaughterhouses December 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently about CCTV in equine slaughterhouses and the parliamentary debate on this issue which took place on 29 November 2016.

I support the mandatory use of CCTV monitoring in all slaughterhouses, including equine slaughterhouses, as I do for all slaughterhouses. I believe it is vital that animals are always handled considerately and under the most humane conditions possible and we should make sure the Government have the right laws in place to ensure that. The welfare of all animals in these conditions is paramount, and also impacts on wider public health.

While I am sure that the vast majority of people that work in UK slaughterhouses abide by high animal welfare standards, video evidence acquired by the charity World Horse Welfare shows some appalling mistreatment of animals and it is distressing to see this kind of behaviour taking place in British slaughterhouses. I believe that all slaughterhouses must abide by high animal welfare standards and show compassion and respect. CCTV is an inexpensive solution to both preventing abuse and ensuring justice if such abuse does come to light. We also need to ensure that there are adequate inspections and veterinary services in slaughterhouses. 

The previous Labour Government had a proud record on animal welfare and on improving welfare standards in the production and processing of food. The previous Labour Government's Animal Welfare Act (2006) places a requirement on abattoir operators not to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal.

During the last Parliament, the Coalition Government was not convinced of the need for further legislation. The current Government also believes it is not necessary to legislate, stating that the FSA estimate that 94% of cattle, 96% of pig, 90% of sheep and 99% of poultry throughput in Britain now comes from premises with CCTV in use. The Government says it is exploring ways to encourage take up of CCTV in remaining slaughterhouses.

I hope the Government will listen to these concerns and take action to reassure the public, horse welfare charities and horse owners that the welfare of the animal is paramount throughout the whole slaughterhouse process. Labour does not support the live exports of animals for slaughter as this can add further distress to animals.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.